Tuesday, November 13, 2012

30 Minutes A Day


In our town, fourth graders are allowed to choose and study a musical instrument.  Georgia decided to follow in the footsteps of her Southern Auntie and Avery and learn the flute.  This decision was slightly problematic, because I do not know how to play the flute and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to help Georgia if she had any problems.  I only allowed the plan to continue, because Georgia is a quick learner and I can read music, and I figured the combination of those two facts would equal success.

The first few weeks, Georgia practiced by herself and things seemed to be going well until one afternoon when she resolutely refused to practice at all.

And I mean REFUSED.

After hours of door slamming, crying and foot stomping, Georgia calmed down enough to inform me that she felt that she was way behind all the other girls in her flute class and that she couldn't even get one note out of the instrument and that she absolutely hated the fact that the flute was a difficult problem that she wasn't able to pick up naturally and easily (okay, I added that last part!)

I'm certain that this is the first thing that Georgia has ever encountered that did not come naturally to her.  

I decided - and Georgia agreed - that it made the most sense for me to sit with Georgia while she practiced and give advice as needed.  And I increased her practice time to 30 minutes a day.


I know many of you think I'm crazy!  If the child hates to practice, why make her practice longer?!?!  

Well, here's my rationale:  in order to enjoy playing a musical instrument, a child needs to feel like they are good at it... and in order to GET good at playing a musical instrument and to continue to improve week after week, a child has to practice every day for as long as possible.  

It's an amazing life lesson.  Practice and you will improve.  Improve and you will enjoy practicing.


Within the first week of our joint practice sessions, Georgia was consistently playing good, clear notes. 


Within two weeks, I had broken Georgia of her habit of resting the flute between her lips and her left shoulder, and she was able to play two pages of her beginners flute book without messing up.

In other words, Georgia was getting better and she was no longer complaining when I reminded her to practice.


And no, she hasn't yet offered to practice without me reminding her, but perhaps that will come eventually, too.


Georgia is now on page 12 of her book and she can play simple tunes.

And I spend 30 minutes listening to such classics as "Good King Wenceslas" and "Merrily We Roll Along."


I may not know what fingers to use to play a note on the flute, but I know when that note is out of tune or being held like a whole note when it is supposed to be a half-note.  And I am good at offering words of encouragement when the going gets rough.  


I'm hoping that Georgia sticks with the flute past this year.  I think she's enjoying the experience a lot more now that she can sight-read most simple songs without much difficulty.  

Want to see for yourself?  Watch the following:





4 comments:

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Good for you and Georgia!! My oldest is the same way - you know, Georgia's distant twin Rachel - things usually come very easily to her and when they don't she gets frustrated very quickly. I didn't take band until seventh grade and I played the clarinet because I never could get the hang of blowing into the flute correctly either!

Great job being a super supportive mom!

Niki said...

I played piano for many years when I was younger and took flute lessons for 2 years. Flute was so much harder than piano. A big thing for me was knowing someone was listening and/or enjoying my playing so I think it's awesome that you sit with her while she practices :)

Martha said...

Lisa - I know, right? They are similar. Flute seems pretty hard to me, but I'm glad that she's being exposed to some sort of music, especially now that she has quit ballet

Martha said...

Niki - thanks so much for leaving a comment! I played the violin when I was Georgia's age and that always seemed easier to me than flute or clarinet.

Now the piano... that's the one that I really couldn't master. I'm not good at reading two hands at the same time!!

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